Have you ever noticed that you’re influenced by other peoples’ opinions and beliefs? Maybe you’ve got to the point that you feel like you have a whole crowd living in your head.
It may be a voice telling you what you need to do to be a better mother/father, friend, sister/brother, spouse/girlfriend or person in general.
Or maybe the voice is chirping about your money, career, health, and exercise or how you spend your time.
By the time we reach our adult years we often have a whole crowd living in our head.
Although it may be normal, the crowd gets in the way of stepping into who we’re meant to become. It prevents us from aligning our lives with our true selves and ultimately robs us of inner peace and fulfillment.
Osho, an Indian mystic and spiritual teacher, wrote about this is his book, Living Dangerously. He said,
“Everybody is born as one single individual, but by the time he is mature enough to participate in life he has become a crowd. If you just sit silently and listen to your mind, you will find so many voices.”
So what. Why does this matter?
It matters because if we don’t become aware of the voices and begin to distinguish our own voice from the voices of others, we will suffer immensely. We’ll suffer because we will be in continual conflict between our desire to be ourselves and our desire to be what we feel we need to be for other people.
Shakespeare said, “To thine own self, be true”. This is almost impossible when we don’t know who we are. If we don’t connect with our own voice amongst the crowd of voices, how are we supposed to be true to ourselves?
For a long time, I had everyone else’s voice in my head about what I needed to do to be happy. I heard the voices of people saying, “Wow! You are so lucky that you can retire and not work anymore,” or “Something must be wrong with your marriage because you want different things,” or “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
I became so confused about which of these voices was actually my own voice and what belonged to other people.
To be perfectly honest, I was more influenced by other people’s voices than I was my own.
This crowd in my head turned into a riot and when the riot turned into physical symptoms related to stress, I had to find a way to break up the crowd.
I love what Osho said, “If you want to become an individual in your own right if you want to get rid of this continuous conflict and this mess within you, then you have to say goodbye to them- even when they belong to your respected father, your mother, your grandfather… One thing is certain: they are not your voices.”
When my kids were young, I tried to be a good influence and was always sharing my opinions with them. The opinions ranged from the friends they should hang out with, to how they should spend their allowance to the importance of attending post-secondary education if they wanted to get a “good” job.
Now all I want for my kids, who are now adults, is for them to ditch my voice and everyone else’s voices and find and listen to their own voice.
One of my pet peeves is when I hear people say that it’s a waste of time and a negative thing to look at your past. I agree, that it’s not a good idea to dwell in the past, but I also believe that in order to embrace our true selves we must become aware of the voices and beliefs that are not our own.
How do we find our own voice?
We find our voice by spending time with ourselves in silence.
Everyone is different, but for me, that happened in meditation, by taking walks in nature, bubble baths and ultimately by creating more space to be less busy.
It happened when I decided I was ready for it to happen and accepted that it was necessary for my own health and happiness.
I found my voice when I began to love myself enough to say, “My voice matters and it is my voice that I’m meant to listen to.” When that happened, I was able to kindly ask the other voices to leave.
“Be silent, and find your own self. Unless you find your own self, it is very difficult to disperse the crowd, because all those in the crowd are pretending, ‘I am yourself.’ And once you know who you are, you can just order them to get out of the house it is actually that simple! But first, you have to find yourself.”-Osho
Are you ready to connect with yourself and find your voice?